8th District Top 10 Version 1/2/13
Our first 8th district top 10 of the new year and there has been some movement. We will be updating our top 10 candidates for the 8th district periodically as we get closer to the committee meeting that may be moved up to accommodate the April 2nd municipal election. Look for the list to evolve, as we get closer to the committee meeting.
1. Lt. Governor Peter Kinder
3 Terms in the Missouri Senate 3 Terms as Lt. Governor Campaign Manger for Bill Emerson’s 1980 Campaign
Another week goes by and another week with no definite resolution to a key question in this race, what would happen to the office of Lt. Governor if Kinder were to go to Congress. The Attorney General hasn’t issued an opinion likely because he hasn’t been asked, but many are speculating that the Republican legislature will pass a bill requiring an election.
However, there are increasing obstacles to that happening: 1) Governor Nixon paired down the GOP’s majority to 109 with an appointment. 2) The unsettled race in the 150th is getting more contentious with the AG about to attempt to decertify the race. Any delay in Hampton taking his seat would result in the GOP only having 108 and not enough Republican votes to pass the bill with an emergency clause. 3)If it did pass the house with an emergency clause it will be interesting to see the reaction of Senator Lager. 4) How enthusiastic will representatives who are seeking the 8th district nomination really be about passing a bill that will have the practical effect of assisting their rival? A bigger detriment to Kinder than the Lt. Governor vacancy question may be that a person many thought would be a loyal backer of his, MRP staffer Lloyd Smith is running against him.
With all of those obstacles in mind it is a testament to the pure vote getting ability of Kinder that he is still at the top of our list. However, if Smith continues to run it will be hard to continue to see Kinder as the favorite. Finally, we hear the issues surrounding the MOVE Act could make an April 2nd election impossible, and the longer the process takes the more time the General Assembly has to pass a bill dealing with the Lt. Governor vacancy.
Odds: 1 in 3 if the Lt. Governor’s office remains vacant
1 in 4 if it is decided by a special election.
1 in 10 if its still undecided by the meeting.
2. State Representative Jason Smith
3 Terms in the Missouri House, set to be Speaker Pro Tem in the next session of the General Assembly
Smith could currently have the most varied base of support in the field. He seems to be genuinely liked by everyone in the process and is pursuing the seat the most aggressively of any of the candidates. He has been a good fundraiser and is close to many of the key people in and around Emerson’s circle of closest supporters. Some speculate that if Emerson has a favorite it might be Rep. Smith.
He has a great background in the ag issues affecting the western portion of the district, and did him self well by quickly introducing a bill to promote gun rights with the issue at the forefront of people’s minds. Some would scratch their heads at introducing a bill promoting gun rights two weeks after a massacre of kindergardeners at the hands of a gun, but in the 8th district nothing means more to people than guns, and Smith was keen to hone in on that. He still needs to sort out the quagmire amongst Sarah Steelman and Senator Brown, but he is very well positioned.
Odds: 1 in 4
2 (a). State Representative Todd Richardson
Poplar Bluff (last week: 3)
1 Term in the Missouri House
From reports we are hearing Richardson may be winning the battle of the living rooms. He is young, articulate, and if it comes down to speeches before the committee at the meeting many have their money on Richardson to win over the room. Richardson is an up and coming star in the General Assembly. He is the leader amongst his class in the house for the Speaker’s gavel, and many believe he is destined for higher office. Richardson has proven to be a solid fundraiser and impressed many in his first term in the House. It could be in his blood as the son of former Minority Leader Mark Richardson.
With Eddy Justice not seeking the nomination and Representative Cookson not courting committee members he has coalesced his area behind him. Many eyes will be on his performance in the forums on the 10th and 17th. Richardson’s common sense tone should play well in a speech, but how will it stack up sharing a stage with 10 others some of them not very serious people. It looks like no matter how the deck is shuffled Richardson will make it to the meeting in Van Buren with a good chance to become the congressman.
Odds: 1 in 4
4. Former State Senator Jason Crowell
Cape Girardeau (last week: 4)
2 Terms in the Missouri Senate 4 Terms in the Missouri House
We hear that Jason Crowell has decided to seek the nomination, and the first thing that came to mind was how much better the forums on the 10th and 17th will be. No candidate is better prepared to wow the field in Salem than Crowell. He could do very well if he comes to Salem to take on Kinder and others who do not have the conservative voting record that Crowell can tout. It will be difficult with less serious candidates like Wendell Bailey and Bob Parker on the stage, but this will be Crowell’s chance, and he has two nights to get his typical five and a half months of hellfire and brimstone in.
Crowell was also helped with some kind words from the conservative former Senator Chuck Purgason last week.
It has been a bad week for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner….if Jason Crowell gets this nomination it will officially be a bad month.
Odds: 1 in 6
5. Political Staffer Lloyd Smith
Former Emerson Staffer and current MRP Staffer
It has been a busy few weeks for Smith. As executive director of the state Republican Party he has been working to fend off challenges from conservative challengers to his boss state party chairman David Cole. Smith was successful in getting the entire Republican establishment to back his boss save for State Auditor Tom Schweich, but can Smith continue to defeat conservatives at the state party level and defeat conservatives for the 8th district nomination. At a time when the party is becoming more conservative in the state and certainly in the 8th can a liberal/moderate continue to dash conservative hopes?
He has formally announced his intentions to run for the nomination since our last top 10 list, but also since then 3 conservative state senators said he should be fired from the state party. Many people are scratching their heads about his campaign to deny Kinder the nomination in favor of himself after Kinder took him in and hired him to work at the state party when his run with Emerson was coming to an end.
His candidacy may be a test to see if the rank and file back the more moderate Speaker Boehner or favor conservative house leadership. As much as the current U.S. House leadership would hate having to deal with a Congressman Crowell, they would love a Congressman Lloyd Smith.
Odds: 1 in 8
6. Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman
2 Terms in the Missouri Senate 1 Term as Missouri State Treasurer
Steelman is deeply conservative and has relationships with committee members all around the district. She has been unable to leave home as much as some other candidates as she has been caring for her mother who recently passed. She has also received the endorsement from Maggie’s List a conservative organization based in Washington D.C.
Steelman has an advantage in that she is the second choice of many committee members who may back more favorite son candidates on earlier ballots. She has been dealing with a personal tragedy, but she will know many committee members by name and if she can successfully combine the support in her area she will be a favorite at the nomination meeting.
Odds: 1 in 8
7. State Senator Dan Brown
1st Term as State Senator
Dan Brown is an outspoken conservative who is part of the group of senators to install Senator Richard as majority leader. Brown is a veterinarian who is well thought of in southeast Missouri conservative ranks.
Brown seems in an unofficial run off with Jason Smith and Sarah Steelman for who will bring the northwest corner of the district’s votes to the nominating committee meeting. However, some are promoting him as a compromise candidate.
Odds: 1 in 10
8. State Representative Kevin Engler
Farmington (last week: 8)
2 Terms in the Missouri Senate 2 Terms in the Missouri House Former Mayor of Farmington
In short, Engler would be a general election rock star, but this isn’t a general election, or even a primary.
Oddly enough after our story on Engler where he was highly critical of his party and their race to the right much of the feedback we received from rank and file republicans was positive about Engler. He is respected by those who know him in the district. He says he will not be speaking at the forums on the 10th and 17th, but he would be an interesting one to listen to as he would have different opinions than the rest of the field, and he would be able to articulate them.
Engler could very well be a kingmaker in this fight and the sheer force of his personality is likely to keep the votes in his area of the district loyal to him, but that may not be enough to win. One angle he could exploit would be appealing to Emerson for help because of their similar positions on labor issues.
Odds: 1 in 15
9. Former Candidate Bob Parker
Ran against Emerson in ’10 & ‘12
Say what you will about Parker, but the man has a following. How many of them are on the committee is unknown, but his die hard supporters are reportedly wearing out the emails of committee members explaining that he is the only candidate who can do the job. Some forget that Parker did garner 35% of the primary vote in 2010. He knows nearly every Tea Party activist in the district by name, and some of them are on the committee.
Parker is known to have somewhat of an abrasive personality, and while him receiving the nomination is still a long shot his ability to swing a few key votes to a nominee is likely. More likely is Parker running in the special election as an independent.
Odds: 1 in 25
10. Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy
Cape County Presiding Commissioner and former State Representative
Clint Tracy is a serious candidate who if he were still in the Missouri House would likely be getting more attention. The more people who are exposed to Tracy the more support he will garner. It is not a secret that people in Cape County prefer their own, and many of them have issues with Crowell. Tracy would be a likely place for them to land.
Tracy has the resume that would be very attractive to many, but his current platform as a commissioner is a challenging place to mount a campaign. Look for Tracy to pick up support as he meets more committee members.
Odds: 1 in 25
Others being mentioned
Scott Lipke, Associate Judge – He really can’t run, but seems to be in some awkward dance of flirting with judicial cannon violations with no real chance of garnering the nomination.
Steve Cookson, State Representative – He would have a chance for the nomination due to the counties he represents and relatives he has on the committee, but seems not to be actively seeking the nomination.
Mike Kehoe, State Senator – Kehoe is a former Highway Commissioner and sitting Senator. While he isn’t well known in the district, he has the resources to become known quickly, and would be a stellar candidate.
Wendell Bailey, former Congressman – Just saying his name makes you smile. Wendell recently graciously offered himself up in service of his nation as a placeholder to hold the seat until a primary could be held. The pro-choice thing is just too much. Again just saying his name makes you smile.
Tom Schulte, former aide to Senators Bond, Ashcroft, Talent and now Blunt – He has been described as the best federal employee since George Washington. He is loved by all of the locals, but hasn’t made any intention to run known.
Russ Oliver, Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney – It seems this opportunity comes too soon for this rising star in the area Republican party. He is an up and comer that anyone who wins the nomination will want on their team.
Doug Libla, State Senator – Ooooh if it was only two years from now, or even one year. Libla would be the hottest name on the list, but being that he hasn’t even been sworn in yet the timing would be very tough. However, he could self fund and did make a lot of contacts as the redistricting roller coaster took him to Dent and Howell counties as well as the district he will represent starting in January.
Chuck Purgason, former member of the state house and senate – If his brand of firebrand conservatism were going to catch fire it would have likely been during his 2010 U.S. Senate primary against Roy Blunt. He will be deciding on a run this week.
Ward Franz, State Representative – But for a few hundred votes in Ripley County Franz would be near the top of this list. We’ve heard don’t count Franz completely out of a future run for office, but the timing is most likely wrong now.
Rob Mayer, Senate President Pro Tem – If Libla wishes it was two years from now Mayer has to with it was two years ago. The timing is simply wrong for Mayer. He just won a judgeship by a landslide and it seems that his window for running for Congress was either last cycle or after a term as judge. He will be hamstrung from actively campaigning for the seat once he is sworn in at the first of the year, and that could debilitate his chances. The irony is that outside of the timing Mayer would be a perfect candidate.
Those who are out:
Steve Tilley, former House Speaker – Tilley would have been the perfect candidate, for Governor, Senator, Congress fill in the blank. Only one problem, he doesn’t want to run for office at this point in his life.
Rod Jetton, former House Speaker – He has left elective politics and is now the owner of the Missouri Political Bug and his new business ventures would prohibit him from re-entering public life.
Josh Haynes, Chief of Staff to Jo Ann Emerson – Haynes appears content to be king maker. Anyone who wins this nomination will make Haynes their first call.
John Jordan, Cape Girardeau County Sheriff – He was floating his name, but would be unlikely to get the committee to recommend him. He would be very strong in a primary as the only Cape Girardeau County candidate. He seems out of the running for the nomination.
Eddy Justice, Chairman of the 8th District Committee – Justice had real support on this committee, but seems to have felt that he couldn’t administer the proceeding fairly with people discussing him as a potential nominee.